Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 30 Walkabout

We hadn't seen the sun at the farm for several days in a row.  The grey skies were starting to feel heavier than they had a right to be.  Perhaps it had something to do with the added worry that comes with a pandemic and all of the adjustments and the issues that arise because of those adjustments?  Then, March 30th comes along and gives us a glorious day.  The pandemic was still here and frankly, it was still terrifying.  The adjustments and the issues that come with them were still here as well.  But, somehow, the sunshine and blue skies helped us feel that there is a way forward.

 I took a walkabout on the farm with camera in hand during the morning hours.  I am not much of a photographer - more of a point, shoot and hope to get lucky hobbyist - but I do know good lighting when I see it.  So, I tried a few things for fun and I took other shots to just record the state of our farm at this time.
 Our seemingly perpetual puddles were calm and there was no wind.  I just happened to look and see that one puddle was showing a reflection of the granary that has our logo painted on the side.  I thought it might be neat to capture it, so I did. 
 The old barn has a melancholy attractiveness to it right now as it continues the process of coming down on its own.  Hopefully, we can begin working to salvage what is left this Fall and early winter. 

 Part of me wishes we could salvage at least part of the building, but the logistics and costs are probably more than we can bear.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  In the meantime, we'll see if we can get some interesting pictures out of it.
 It is the time of year when I start looking at the soil more critically to determine when I might be able to do some work in the fields.  This is particularly important this year because I hope to create swales (ditches) and raised areas using the soil removed from the swales so I can deal with the higher moisture levels we have been seeing.  I think the soil might still be a bit saturated - what do you think?
And, the sky was really blue.  No filters on the camera.  Just blue.

I did make sure to appreciate it.  I hope you did to.

Monday, March 30, 2020

2020 Vision - Poultry

With so much change going on at the farm - even before the pandemic pretty much took over most of humanity's attention span (short as it often is) - we thought we would put out a series of shorter posts to talk about what is going on with us and the farm.  I thought we would focus on our poultry plan for 2020 in this post.

Laying Hens
Our current flock is at about 85 ladies right now.  In prior years, we were normally at about 120 birds.  However, we had multiple cycles where we had way too many eggs for the demand that was being shown.  Happily, we had CSA customers and we put eggs into the shares to move them AND to add value to the shares for our customers.  Still, that doesn't help us actually cover costs and make a little money on the enterprise, so we reduced the flock.

And, now, demand has gone up in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.  Well, we can't make them lay what they can't.  But, the plan is to purchase more hen chicks in early Spring and bring flock numbers up slightly (to maybe 100 total for next Spring).  The new birds won't start laying until September, but it is what it is.

Broiler Chickens
We raised four flocks of 150 birds last year and we were still trying to sell them up until this month.  We have a pretty good system for these birds worked out, but there are two tasks that can take a great deal out of us.  One is moving the birds out of the brooder and into the pasture.  The other is the actual processing sequence.  So, we are working to make this more efficient, especially with less help on the farm this year.

Our plan is to run four flocks again, but we will run them in sets of 2 flocks at a time.  We will reduce the flock size to 125 each - which means we will have about 100 fewer available in 2020.   The big thing that this does is it takes the number of "birds out of brooder" and "processing (going to the park) day" events down to two each instead of four each.  Yes, those events will be a bit more intense for us, but we can handle that.   It is the fact that each time we do these things, there are significant tasks that surround them.  With the processing day, our sleep cycle gets altered as well.   So, the difficulty is the number of times those events happen.  If we lessen the number of times we do these things, we might be able to get a someone or two to come out and help with those tasks.

We are still discussing turkeys, so we'll fill you in once we finalize the plan.

If you have input for us on our plans, feel free to let us know.  If you think you and others can increase the demand for certain product enough to change what we do, then talk to us. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Farm Report

There are so many topics that come to mind for our blog.  In fact, there are currently sixty different posts sitting in our 'unpublished' posts that are in varying stages of construction.  Some of them just feel too heavy to lift at the moment.  Others may never find the right time to become an active part of our blog.  When in doubt, it makes sense to simply write about what is going on now at the farm.

The farmer gets another job
What would this world be if there wasn't change?  Well, the farm is undergoing change, just like it does every year at some level.  This year, part of the change is that Rob will derive some of his income from a job as the Communications Associate in Iowa for the Pesticide Action Network.  This is a part-time 'gig' that will, nonetheless, take a serious chunk of time away from the farm.  But, not to worry, our season plan for the farm is continuing.  We do still plan on growing most of the crops we listed and we will raise chickens and turkeys.  
Rob setting up a 'drift-catcher' to measure chemical drift on the farm
One of the important things here is that Rob is simply making his efforts to address pesticide/herbicide misapplication and overuse more formal (and more consistent) by taking this position with PAN.  There is a strong consistency with the Genuine Faux Farm's mission to educate and work with the environment and the efforts that are required to perform this new job.  
 2020 Pre-Paid Farm Credit Program
- Do you travel and you found the CSA to be a problem rather than a benefit because of that schedule?  This program provides flexibility to allow you to participate.
- Were you tired of receiving produce you really didn't want?  This program allows you to select what you want.
- Did you want more of one thing and less of another?  Farm credits allow you to order what you want from the things that we have available at any given week.
- Were there times you wanted to pick up in Cedar Falls rather than Waverly or vice versa?  Well, you can do that with the new program too.
- Are there times of the year when you are more interested in buying farm products and others when you are not?  Once again, you order as you go, using the credits to acquire what you want, when you want it.
- Did you like the old CSA program?  Well, good news, we can offer packages at each delivery for a certain number of farm credits.  If that is what you liked, then it will be similar - we'll just be counting credits.
- Just want eggs or chickens?  Well, guess what?  They're part of the program too!
- Would you like lower prices?  Members will receive items at last year's prices (which are remarkably similar to the past eight years).  Those who are not members can still purchase, but we will not guarantee the same price.
Carrotman encourages you to join us!
We will run the system in $50 increments.  In other words, you can purchase a minimum of $50 of farm credit at a time.  We will cap the maximum amount of credit at $200 and you can refill your farm credits at any point.

Like the CSA program, this gives you the advantage of not having to pull out money at each delivery.  Instead, we will have a ledger with tracking for your current credit balance.  This also provides us with some working capital to start the season.  Also, like the CSA program, we will give participants better pricing and opportunities than those who might prefer to 'pay as they go.'

A major difference this year is that farm credits can be used for ANY farm product the Genuine Faux Farm offers.  If you buy farm credits, you can apply them to purchasing meat chickens, vegetables, eggs or any other thing we offer this year.

Want to sign up by mail?  You can do that.  Or, you can use Paypal!  Please contact us at
gff at genuinefauxfarm dot com
and we'll send you information on how to do so.

We are accepting purchases of credits now and throughout the season.
Egg Cartons
In the interest of reducing a potential vector of viral spread, we will decline egg cartons for re-use for the time being.  Please save them and bring them to us after the current pandemic issues are in the past.  We will be using new egg cartons for all eggs we provide for the next couple or months for all of our eggs.
Balancing Things, Just Like Everyone Else
The two of us are making adjustments and trying to balance how to do things with new limitations to address the current pandemic.  We refuse to be part of the problem and we encourage everyone who reads this blog post to do their best to reduce the spread of this disease.  
As a college professor, Tammy has been working extra hours trying to adjust classes to new venues and handle the premature termination of placements/internships for the seniors in the Social Work program.  Students have needed the support of their professors and college staff more than ever as they enter a frustrating and frightening situation.  Teachers everywhere, at all levels, are working hard to protect, nurture and (yes) educate through a difficult time.  I am proud of Tammy's efforts and I appreciate all teachers everywhere.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Gentle Reminders

We have been using the term "gentle reminder" for some time when we send out our second note for egg, veg, poultry delivery days.  We do this because we know days are busy for people and a reminder is often necessary for them to place their order or remember to come pick their orders.  Neither Tammy nor I tend to like to be aggressive in our sales pitches because we both know that sort of sales pitch turns us off.  Hence, the gentle reminder approach.

Well, here we are, in a world facing a pandemic.  If there was ever a time we need gentle reminders, it is now.  While the Genuine Faux Farm probably isn't a primary source for influencing people one way or the other, we do know a few people take something away from the things that we post here or on places such as Facebook.  And, you know what?  Even if no one else reads these things, we will write them anyway as a reminder to ourselves.  Why?  Because how we react will cause ripples with others that know us.  That alone makes it worthwhile.

The two of us have been making adjustments, just as everyone else has been (or should be) doing.  The blog hasn't gotten the love it deserves lately, but this will be rectified in coming weeks.  To start us off, I will include the gentle reminders that have appeared recently on Facebook for your viewing pleasure.

March 13 - Today's gentle reminder to focus on something beautiful - all the while doing your best to do the right thing.
March 14 - Today's gentle reminder - the snow falls now, but there remains promise in the soil.

March 15 - Today's gentle reminder from the farm - even if you can't go there physically, you can still find a calm place by picturing it in your mind.

March 16 - Today's less than gentle reminder from the Sandman - "Everyone take care of yourselves and take care of each other! I, the Sandman, have spoken! - Now... go take a nap."
March 17 - Today's gentle reminder from the farm - there will be flowers. Make sure you see them when they grace you with their presence.

March 18 - Today's gentle reminder from the farm - an annoyance for some just may be nectar to others.

March 19 - Today's gentle reminder from the farm - flowers on fruit bearing plants provide more than one kind of food.

March 20 - Gentle reminder of the day from the farm - sometimes a kind word and a skritch or two behind the ears is all you need to find a little bit of peace.

March 21 - Today's gentle reminder from the farm - slow down and find something that soothes you wherever you are. Then, let yourself be soothed.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Farm House Project

It has been a while since we posted an update on the farm house work that is ongoing this Winter.  Since things warmed up this past week, we have had the chance to work with Travis and Rory and get more of the exterior of the house dealt with.  Rather than write too much about it, we'll share some pictures!

A reminder of where we had things on January 7 (click on photo for larger version).

We did get a bit more done in January that we have neglected to show here.  

West side.
North side.
Enter March and the madness continues!  The South wall of the kitchin/dining room in its 'before' state is below.

And the outside of that same wall is next.  Note the old air conditioner at the left, window at left and door in the center.  The door didn't look half bad on the inside, but we failed to take a picture to show the issues on the outside.  That... and it required a firm 'hip check' to open or close it in Winter... a full body block to open during more humid months.

Out with the A/C, window and door!  And... yes... we did take the old Christmas wreath down too.  What this picture does NOT show is the brick facade over the foundation that we also took out (ok, a little of it is visible bottom left).  We suspected there were some foundation issues being hidden there and we were, sadly, correct.  Guess our next project?

 Well....  that sure makes it easy to go in and out of the house, doesn't it?

 Once again, Bree was not on board with the activities for the day....

But, by the end of the day, we could see out the window without actually feeling all the elements of actually BEING outside.  Bree is not yet pleased because there is still too much applecart upset for her tastes.  She'll get over it.  We hope.

 Another before picture above.  Note the upper 'porch' and the door on the second floor.  Yes, the storm door was falling off and the inner door was sealed shut for Winter.  Time to fix that.
 How about a nice big window.  Big enough that we can still use it for an escape if necessary.  That's been on the list for a long time!

 Oh look!  Even more progress.  Siding under the porch.  More siding off the rest of the South side... and is there something else new here?  We'll get to that.

 But, first, here is a close up of the new window and door.

Wait!  There is a new door and new windows here too! For those who do not know our house, the front door on the main part of the house has only been visible from the outside.  The prior owners sealed up that door on the inside and put paneling over that.  As of yesterday, we have an operable door to the main part of the house. 

 This, of course, means that Bree has had even more to be upset about because the destruction has reached not one, not two... but three rooms in the house.  Poor kitty.  Hob Nob has also let her displeasure be known, but she decided part of her protest was to not allow her photo to be taken.

Guess we'll need to address some of the interior issues next too....   Ah, old houses!